Finance Minister Mathias Cormann repays Helloworld holiday flights after media queries



February 19, 2019 09:51:12

Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said didn’t notice that he hadn’t been charged more than $2,700 dollars in flights for a January 2018 family holiday to Singapore — an amount he repaid yesterday after being contacted by the media.

Key points:

  • Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and his family travelled to Singapore in January 2018
  • He says he didn’t realise he hadn’t been charged for the flights until contacted by the media
  • Senator Cormann insists there’s no link between his flights and the booking company receiving a government contract

Senator Cormann booked the January 2018 return flights for himself, his wife and two children through travel company Helloworld in July 2017.

He said an administrative error led to the company failing to charge his credit card, and only followed it up yesterday after the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age raised it with his office.

“At no point, until approached by the media yesterday, did I receive any reminders that the payment due remained outstanding, even though I now understand it appeared as outstanding and unresolved on the internal Helloworld system since that time,” Senator Cormann said in a statement.

“The payment was processed immediately once it became apparent to me that it remained outstanding.”

He said he thought his credit card had been charged when he booked the economy flights.

Liberal Party treasurer is Helloworld CEO

Senator Cormann released a letter he received from Helloworld, dated February 19, 2019, in which chief financial officer Michael Burnett said reminder payment notices had not been sent to the Finance Minister despite the payment being listed as “outstanding”.

“The flights were never ‘free’ and they were never intended to be free,” Mr Burnett said in the letter.

The chief executive of Helloworld is federal Liberal Party treasurer Andrew Burnes.

Senator Cormann denied there was any link between the flights and a subsidiary of Helloworld being awarded a government travel contract.

“At no point did I influence or seek to influence the outcome of that tender process,” he said.

“I had absolutely no role in the awarding of this tender or during the subsequent contract negotiations with the preferred tenderer.”




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